News Takes a Holiday

The cool thing about the “new journalism” appears to be…the hours don’t suck.

If you spend any time using, watching, or participating in “news” you are aware of the ongoing discussion of “the future of news”. Here in the lovely Twin Cities of Minnesota (Sunny and -6 as of this writing) the topic has even lead to more than our fair share of conferences addressing it. One hosted by Minnesota Public Radio and one of a more independent nature (that I regrettably had to miss at the last minute) organized by many and spear-headed by David Brauer of MinnPost.

The topics addressed by these gatherings and discussions include the death of newspapers, the state of broadcast news, credibility of citizen journalists, monetization and overall interest by news consumers. From blogs to video, online to mobile, the proliferation of “new” ways of covering current events is the centerpiece of the “future of news.”

One thing not discussed about this new form of news, at least that I’m aware of, is that the hours seem to be pretty sweet for those that produce it.

Today, December 29th, 2009, the middle of the infamous “holiday break” during which much slows to a crawl, I took a quick check of some of my favorite “new journalism” sites. Judging by them you would have to assume that news is taking time off as well.

On MinnPost I was greeted with a note at the top of the page. “Happy Holidays from! We’ll be posting limited new content (including several end-of-year lists and Jim Klobuchar) until Jan. 4.” The most recent content, other than a story about the Vikings-Bears game appears to be from December 23rd.

Over at the UpTake, though there was no formal note, I found streaming video from past UpTake radio shows and events. In addition, there were plenty of links to their incredible coverage of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen…but nothing posted with today’s date.

Before I go any further, this is not meant to be merely a critique of these two sites and endeavors. In my eyes they have both been pioneers in new journalism. In fact, both clearly state, once you dig into the “about” sections of their site, that their scope is not necessarily daily news. MInnPost notes Monday-Friday coverage and the Uptake stressing a more broad scope emphasizing the training of citizen journalists. I know and have huge respect for many of the people involved at both. I also understand the concept of throwing stones. Hey, I’m not exactly Mr. Consistent Content myself.

But, I’m surprised. Perhaps I’m thinking old school, but my expectations weren’t met. I chose to look to these “new journalism” outlets for information and found less than timely, if not downright old news. Consider my expectations adjusted. But it does provide appoint of discussion doesn’t it?

I learned early on, and was reminded repeatedly, during my career in broadcast that news is a 24/7/365 deal. As much as I wanted to tell my staff that they could call it quits each weekend or on a holiday (during which real people got time off) that just wasn’t the gig. No doubt there is a slow down in many areas of our life over the holidays but does that mean journalists and news itself gets to slow down too?

The way we get news is changing. How we make it success in the future should include delivering it at least as often and as well as traditional outlets. Don’t you think that if the new journalism is to succeed, in all those areas that we discuss so intently, then these sites need to be there…all the time. Or is it just me?